Interview: Artist Jane Eastwood
Jane Eastwood is a figurative painter who works almost exclusively in oils. Her paintings commonly feature reflections or distortions in glass or water.
Where did you grow up, and has this place had an influence on your practice?
I grew up in a town called Alderley Edge in Cheshire. The 'Edge' itself a sandstone escarpment riddled with caves and covered with forest. It has its own legend about a wizard who guards sleeping soldiers in the caves. I've painted the forest before and I'm sure I'll come back to it in the future. It's a very eerie and ancient place. Sadly it's now most famous for the fact that David Beckham used to live there.
Was there a defining moment when you decided you wanted to be an artist?
One year at the BP Portrait Award exhibition I made a conscious decision to try to paint to that level. It was an ambitious goal. I've never managed to get selected. But I haven't given up!
How has your practice evolved since then?
I started out doing just portraits and self-portraits, but I've moved away from that now. I'm working on a series of paintings based on The Underground at the moment. They include people, but not portraits. The people in the pictures come as much out of my imagination as from the real people I see on the tube.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on the next painting in the tube series. It's of the Victoria Line platform at Victoria. I like to paint complex superimposed images and I'm attempting to paint a reflection of the length of the platform as it appears in one of the glass-fronted iconic tube maps.
Could you take us through working method or process?
I take hundreds of photos of the tube. Actually, I probably have thousands now. Don't tell LUL because you're not supposed to take pictures of the tube. In fact, I was threatened with arrest at Brixton a couple of weeks ago, but I fled onto a departing train. I then spend hours sifting through the pictures at home. For any one painting I'll use two or three photos that I work into a single composition, lifting elements from each and merging them. I don't use Photoshop. I do it on the canvas.
Do the materials you use inform the work or vice versa?
I love oils for the way they move across the canvas. I find it much easier to layer them up than acrylics and I think that's why they work so well to create the dual images I've been attempting in the tube paintings. You can drag the pigments much more easily across the surface of the picture. That versatility has allowed me to construct much more complex compositions.
What tool is vital to you in your studio?
My fold-up easel. At the moment my studio is my home, so being able to pack things away easily is essential. The fold-up easel belonged to my grandfather who was also a painter. He died before I was born. My dad kept the easel and gave it to me when I was a teenager.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Almost everything in London provides inspiration. I'm often frustrated by not being able to capture something I've seen. There is so much that gets away or is forgotten about.
What material do you always go back to when creating your work?
Although all my finished paintings are in oils, I still always go back to acrylic when I'm drafting the composition. I can work much faster on making corrections and compositional decisions in acrylic. I use oil paint to create the detail and the colour richness on top of the acrylic sketch.